Category Archives: People

One Last Time: My Last Trip To San Francisco (Fuji X100)

 

Before my permanent move to Texas I felt a duty festering deep in my soul to visit the city one last time. With my second-hand Fujifilm x100 and Polaroid Automatic Land Camera 360 in hand, I  spent hours walking around releasing any fears of separation at the tail end of the shutter sound.

 

These are my shots from the X100 in their full form, void of any image compression *cough*Facebook*cough* and commentary.

*exhale*
ariston oops-2 beanie silhouettespace legs blonde hairfinancial street walkschinatown buskbuilding light hard times hiding pop art

Leave a comment

Filed under My Life, Out And About, Paparazzi Style, People, Street Photography

Fat Loss Miracle or Mirage? My Thoughts on “Slenderiix” the Magic Weight Loss Method

In the past two months I’ve noticed a handful of people posting before-and-after photos of their AMAZING weight loss transformation. “Now you see fat? *VIOLA!* Now you don’t!” But being the hardcore skeptic that I am, I started to look into all these overnight skinnies and wondered, “what the hell are they doing to lose this weight?”


Apparently, there’s a homeopathic “product” being used called “Slenderiix” where all you need to do is plop a few drops of magic water on your tongue, follow a specific diet and POOF! You’ll go from Gary Busey to George Clooney in snap. Yet for some odd reason, all of the people who have lost weight from using this “product” seem to be losing it at an ALARMINGLY FAST rate. Now, I wasn’t born yesterday so I understand the ploy behind many of these bullshit products:

1. Create a product that does NOTHING to the user. No risks involved/no benefits
2. Say that in order for the product to work, you MUST FOLLOW A STRICT DIET, as if the diet will somehow team-up with the product to create a SUPER PRODUCT!
3. Restrict the calorie intake to concerning levels, bordering on malnutrition
4. Make exercising OPTIONAL
5. Stick finger up asses of customers
6. Make it rain.

But the more I tried to research “Slenderiix” (or the company that makes it, Ariix) the more I noticed how UNANIMOUSLY POSITIVE all the reviews were. There’s hardly a negative comment in existence. Now, I’ve been using the INTERNETZ for quite some time and from my experience, there is NOTHING in this world that is that loved and cherished on the internet. Hell, even the beloved Cat picture has its share of haters — so why does this “product” seem invincible from the gamma rays of the almighty trolls of the internet?

Then, a burst of light gleamed from a crack in the system and revealed the ugly truth:

This is another one of those bullshit multi-level marketing companies that sells to their customers while “recruiting” them to sell to their friends. Because of course, if you’re buying into a pile of bullshit you might as well pull your friends into the mess so you can all enjoy, right? Ignorance loves company and this Ariix crap is no different from the phony shit sold from USANA or scAMWAY.

Look, at the end of the day, we are all free to consume whatever Chinese medicine/homeopathic infused moon crystals we desire. If it makes you skinnier, great; If it gives you a full head of luscious hair, fantastic; If it makes you feel like your dick is growing 12 inches a month, hooray! However, I do think there’s a greater issue at hand that does need to be addressed and that is the deformed relationship between greed and insecurity.

You see, there’s nothing wrong with your pot belly and man boobs. If that’s who you are, then embrace it. If you want to change it, go for it. Go for a nice jog around the park, start lifting weights and quit sneaking into Carls Jr late at night to have a midnight rendezvous with a double western cheeseburger (which I admit to doing more than once.) But when companies like Ariix or USANA try to sell you unregulated products — most of which aren’t FDA approved or doctor approved — you have to ask yourself, “what am I getting myself into? What are the long term ramifications of taking this thing?” I mean honestly, most of these weight loss miracles are probably 99% water and 1% 7-UP so I don’t think you’ll be growing tentacle arms any time soon, but you should still wonder…

I guess my problem with these companies is that they’re selling you a product that claims to help you lose weight yet in reality, its the dieting and exercise that does the work — not the product. They’re not selling miracle drugs, they’re selling lies . Bold face lies. And although the alternative of eating well and working out simply cannot be bundled into an effective advertisement, I somehow find myself strangely in approval of these products. Maybe they work because they employ the same tactics that are used by parents everywhere to convince their children to eat more veggies: by hiding the peas and carrots inside the mashed potatoes and pizza, the kids THINK they’re getting something fantastic when in reality, the truth is burried underneath. And though we are old enough to do our research and figure out what is in these products that we’re buying, like that ignorant child we once were, we choose to believe that we’re eating magic mashed potatoes and gravy that our parents claim will make us run faster and jump higher. We choose to not question what we’re given because we want to believe that miracles do exist and that there is hope somewhere beneath our flabby stomach.


In this crushing economy where graduate students with Masters degrees on top of Masters degrees can’t get a job flipping burgers to save their broke ass, sometimes you need that boost in confidence. And you know what? Perhaps that is all Slenderiix does. It’s the confidence that if I take this miracle water, I’ll succeed in losing this weight and maybe, just maybe, I might look good enough to be hired for a job… or find a girlfriend… or feel like I love myself. Perhaps these are the things that we need most in times of uncertainty: a little bit of hope, a few cups of confidence and a gallon of disregard.

69 Comments

Filed under My Life, People, Rants, Revelation

The Midnight Soldier – My Brief Encounter with Raman, The 49ers Stadium Security Guard

When you grow up like I did, staying up late into the AMs playing video games and watching music videos on
Youtube, you start to redefine what night time actually is. For some, like my mom and perhaps the rest of the sane
world, night time is somewhere around an hour after sunset and about 9pm. For me, night time settles in at about
12:01am.

There’s something about crossing into the AM that just changes things. The air smells different —  like smoking
firewood from a nearby campfire — trees turn into ominous, black silhouettes and anyone you see jogging by
or taking a night stroll feels immediately dangerous and suspicious. But that’s just what the darkness does. So
naturally, exploring and adventuring around this time gets even more fun as the mundane things of everyday
suddenly turn obscure, waiting for you to uncover them.

Fascinated by bright lights at night, one night I drove over to the construction site where they are currently
building the new San Francisco 49ers football stadium in Santa Clara. Tripod mounted with my Polaroid
Automatic Land Camera 360, I stood outside the chain linked fence and scoped out possible shots. After two
or three, I saw a security guard emerge from a parked car. He looked at me. And I looked at him. We nodded
to each other, and he walked towards me.

Asking what I was up to, I showed him my camera. He seemed interested but to my great surprise, he didn’t seem
to care that I was up this late taking pictures, nor did he care that I was standing around in a raggedy shirt, short
shorts and a mismatching bath robe. After talking about my camera, we discussed for an hour about everything:
work, school, finding a job, and even football, despite the fact that I know very little about it.

I wanted to take a picture of him at the time but unfortunately, I only had color film which was ISO 100 so I knew
I had to return and see him again to have another midnight chat. So I did. I came back the following week, same day
and around the same time, and there he was again. His name is Raman and he’s a college student who works the
graveyard shift as a security guard while attending classes in the day time. He’s currently studying computer science.
These are some of our conversations:

Scanned negative taken from the positive (shown above.) I love how much of the detail and black levels are preserved: the rifts in his turban, parts of his beard and the building itself.

Me: Do you have to stay up the entire time?
Raman: Yea, but you get used to it, ya know?
Me: Do you drink coffee or something or what? How do you stay up the whole time?
Raman: The first time, you do. I like drank hella red bulls n shit, but after you get used to it and it’s nothing. I just
watch movies and shows n shit while I’m waiting.
Me: Your boss is cool about it?
Raman: Yea, he knows wassup.
Me: Yea, I mean, it’s not like there’s a whole lot going on so it should be understandable.

Me: Do you eat anything while you’re here?
Raman: Nah, we don’t get a lunch.
Me: FORREALS?! Why not?
Raman: We have to be on the watch the whole time so we can’t leave. But we can bring food if we want. I just don’t
eat. I’m trying to bulk up though.
Me: Yea? Been working out?
Raman: Yea man, but it’s hard because I barely get any sleep, and you know how your muscles grow over night n
shit
Me: Yea, yea, my girlfriend used to work at Vitamin Shoppe so she knew all about that stuff

(talking about his annoying ex-coworker)
Raman: Yea dude, he was a fuckin bitch.
Me: How so?
Raman: One time, I thought I was running late so I called my boss and was like “Yo, I’m on my way but I’ll be
there in like five minutes.” So I drive up and just as I’m about to park my car, my coworker is standing there with his
watch and complains to my boss about me being one minute late. I’m like, forreals?
Me: What did your boss do?
Raman: He had to give me a warning. It’s part of his job though, ya know?

FP-3000 Negative that stuck to the back of one of my shots. Caused that weird pattern

Raman: Some of these construction workers make like, $80,000 a year.
Me: Damn! That’s hella crazy! But I mean, they’re doing incredibly physical work. And it’s also very dangerous
Raman: Yea, exactly. They be hanging on this wire thing hella high up in the air while they’re welding shit. I’m
like, awww, fuck that!
Me: haha! Yea man, its almost like, shit, if I can make that kind of money, why go to school?
Raman: I know, right? Make hella bank.

Raman: So what kinda camera is that?
Me: It’s an old Polaroid film camera from the 1960’s.
Raman: That’s sick yo. Does it take hella nice pictures or what?
Me: It does. The thing that I also like about film is that it’s more permanent. You really only get one shot to
get it right. So you cherish your photos more and they’re more meaningful and sentimental.
Raman: Yea, I remember in 2nd grade our teacher had one of those old polaroid cameras and she took a
picture of me, and I think I still have it somewhere in one of my binders or something, haha.
Me: See?
Raman: Yea man, that’s pretty sick

The friendship that Raman and I shared was an interesting one. He’s a sports guy, I’m an artsy nerd. He’s into
computer science while I do communication studies. In a sad way, in our every day life we probably would
never hang out together. But in this instance, we did. Like a stray cat finding a caged dog behind a chain link
fence, that grid of metal served as this physical and symbolic representation of our separate worlds. Worlds
that normally do not collide. Worlds where, had it been daylight, we might not even recognize each other. And by
the mysterious powers of the darkness of night, we shared an intimate yet comforting conversation for just those
two nights.

Goodnight Raman, and good luck in all your endeavors.

Leave a comment

Filed under Full Framed, Men, My Life, Out And About, People, Polaroid, Special, Street Photography, Summer, The man/woman behind the job

Fanime 2013: Where Perverted Virgins and Artists Collide!

Ah, Fanime… the only time of the year when you can walk around downtown San Jose wearing a lolita dress and
not have people suspect that you’re a hardcore weeaboo. But alas, Fanime was today and it brought out all of the
bay area’s nerdiest and most creative minds under one wet blanket. Being the cheap ass that I am, I just roamed
the halls and outskirts of the convention looking for cosplayers with some pizazz. Oddly enough, I actually wasn’t
too thrilled to be shooting there.

You see, ever since I transitioned into film/polaroid photography my shooting style has changed. So while nerd
1, 2 and 384 were all photographing the same girl, DSLRs click-clacking faster than Michael J. Fox in tap shoes,
I pretty much had one chance to get it right. Equipped with 1 pack of Fuji FP-100C color film, 1 pack of fp-3000b
black and white and one roll of Portra 400 in my Olympus Stylus Epic, I had to be very selective with who I
photographed and how. Take this shot for example:

First off, I thought her Catwoman was fantastic. The stitching looked legit and the expressions were
pretty damn spot on. She was even hanging out against the wall like one of those stray cats you might see
in an alley. However, due to the low speed of film (100 ISO) I was forced to really grip down on my camera
and stabilize it as much as possible. A bit blurry for my taste but the silver lining is that popping red against
the blue hazed tones. I also bleached the negative which has a very 80’s-ish vibe – no?

It totally reminds of those thin, outdated hairstyle booklets that almost every Vietnamese barber shop owns.
Gerri curl, anybody? Digressions aside, the con was a little disappointing to be honest. Everyone seemed to be
dressed as the same damn thing and no one really went there. It was all just a bunch of Lolitas, obscure
characters who look like they could be from any damn anime — I mean seriously, how original do you look wearing
an Asian schoolgirl outfit? — and even more annoying was the bukkake of Princess Zeldas and Links gossiping
around their makeshift deku tree.

This was one of the few Zeldas that I actually bought into. She totally stayed in character the whole time and had
demure hand gestures as if her hand were a dolphin skipping away.

See what I mean? This kinda shit is cool. Squatting over a bird shit-stained light post just to give your fans a
good shot? BALLIN! And the black chick has that confidence that bodes well with Black widow.

Being the only polaroid photographer that day, I got quite a few compliments and questions about my camera.
After taking a photo of miss Pochahontas over here, some dude popped out of the trees like Slenderman and
was like “cool camera!” We chatted for a bit about film photography, he told me about his film background
and he eventually gave me his business card. Check out their fantastic work!

One of the moments that truly stuck out to me was when I saw Zero Suit Samus. When I came up to take a
picture of her I noticed this Super-Cholo dude with his hood lookin’ buddy asking to have their photo taken
with her. Arms around her shoulder, they cheesed as the other brother snapped away on their camera phone.
Now, I’m not going to say they were out of place since who knows, those guys could be closeted weeboos,
but what I did take note of was her expression.

Her face was cringing when they were touching her; it was as if she were 5 years old again and her parents
were trying to feed her vegetables. Maybe other people didn’t see it, but I know I did. It was subtle, but it
was definitely there. I guess when you do street photography you end up training your eye to notice
microscopic moments: a bright red high heel on cold pavement, a little child dancing in a pocket of
sunlight or the forced smile of a woman trying to maintain her composure. Which brings me to my final
point of this drawn out post: IS Cosplay consent?

I love how much dynamic range is restored when you scan the negatives of fp-3000b. Pro tip: DON’T keep your unpeeled pictures close together or they will magically warm up and somehow get sticky, leaving this weird pattern that you see.

Oh, what the hell am I saying? Of course Cosplay isn’t consent! Yes, some of these women are dressed more
minimalistic
than your average hooters girl, but the outfit a woman wears should never dictate whether a man
(or rather, a boy) has the right to touch her in any way. Come to think about it, most of the photographers that
were there seemed rather pervy. I kinda just took my shots and walked away while these other peeping toms
looked like they were completely getting off with their camera lenses. WHY DO YOU LADIES EVEN COME
HERE?! SAVE YOURSELVES! LEAVE, NOW!

I kid, I kid. But in all honesty it does make me wonder: during these types of conventions where you have
women dressed up as characters, is there something about the environment that makes guys feel like it’s
okay to touch women? Or should we just learn to expect this behavior from virgin boys who claim to have
reached first base when in reality, an elderly German lady simply patted down their jeans during a TSA
inspection. It really goes to show you that both nerds and jocks can be assholes.

Oh, and I also saw Ironman.

4 Comments

Filed under Details, Models, Out And About, People, Photoshoots, Polaroid, Rants, Street Photography, Summer, Women

Geraldine (Gigi) – Sales Associate By Day, Aspiring Fashion Designer By Night – San Jose

I‘ll say it now: working at a job that isn’t your career fucking sucks. I mean, how many of us actually work at a job
that we love? Aside from being the official taste tester for Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, there really isn’t a job in the
world that caters to every single need you have. As an aspiring artist working in retail, the monotony of selling
handbags and rubber flip-flops can bore the neurons out of your brain. So when Geraldine (aka, Gigi, aka G²) –
a 30-something, 5’2-ish, aspiring fashion designer – was hired at our location, we immediately bonded over our
shared longing for a future in art.

As Dr. Evil as it may seem, I’m somewhat of an emotional brick wall. I hardly cry, my heart skips a beat when
children are being yelled at by their parents in public, and I also give zero fucks when I lose a friend. Friends?
Whateves, yo! I’ll just find a new one on 4CHAN! But as today marks Gigi’s last day, a part of me (and all of us at
work) has seemed to dwindle down like a fire without a wick. Why, you ask? Well, when you work with a group of
all women, you get somewhat of a shitstorm when it comes to drama. She said, she said, and all of this bullcrap
gets thrown around like condiments in a food fight. At some point, everyone has been irritated by everyone –
but not Gigi.

Gigi was sort of the neutral party. She never started shit with anyone nor did she care to be involved. I respect
that. She was always an immensely chipper person and even though she was only in her early 30’s, she felt sort
of like our grandma – emotionally relaxed and always willing to share a great conversation. If we weren’t talking
about food and the types of food we wish we could be eating on our incoming lunch break, we discussed art,
fashion, gossip at work, and other random topics. But she was also real, with real problems and real concerns.

Interlaced beneath the cotton threads of her happy disposition were the linings of guy problems, struggles with
family issues, and the mystery of her future in the fashion biz. I mean she had some Maury Povich stuff goin on
and naturally, I found myself as her unofficial therapist – advising and guiding her on things such as “that man is
a LIAR!” or “MAN UP! Ask him out!” Conversely, she helped me learn to relax more at work. She taught me
how to turn my inner TiVo on and put things in slow motion. To stop, take my time, and let the job do itself.
She was excellent at it.

I won’t bore you any longer with my individual stories and inside jokes but I will say this: despite my brick wall
of a heart, I truly found myself saddened when she left our store. A good, moral, and real person had left our
family at work. The world just doesn’t make people like her anymore. People who seem to endure so much in
life yet they continue to thrive and smile through it all. Both of us may have bigger dreams and aspirations
beyond the tasks of folding clothes and ringing up needy customers, so perhaps, by chance, the art world will
harmonize and in the future, we will meet again at the corporate art department.

Till then, my good friend.

Dance on*

*This was a song that we all used to lip sync and dance to during work*

Leave a comment

Filed under At The Mall, Details, Featured Designer, Featured Fashionista, Full Framed, My Life, People, Rants, Special, Spring, The man/woman behind the job, Updates, Women

Beyond The Smoke: My Photographic Stroll Through Santana Row

Night Time: for a child, this is when all the creepy crawlers and slimy monsters come out to play. But for any
adult in the San Jose/Santa Clara area, night time is when a different breed of monsters come out. Monsters
in mini skirts, tube tops, and douchey dress shirts that are unbuttoned low enough to see some pubes.
Welcome to Santana Row! Where trying hard and making a fool of yourself is abundant and plenty.

Here, I decided to take out the Fuji X10 for a spin. Honing my inner Daido Moriyama, I practiced my zone
focusing and quick shooting. Unlike the sniper like precision I’m used to at fashion shows and photoshoots,
this type of street photography calls for a different mentality. Whereas fashion shooting is about strolling
on by, picking shots carefully like a little girl picking only the ripest of blueberries, this style is more of an
impulsive reaction. You see it, you shoot it. No thinking, no autofocusing, and certainly no chimping.

Thirty minutes in and I’m already starting to realize something: the circus like show that I anticpated – the
bar fights, sidewalk barfing and random fondling of privates – was hardly visible to my 28mm eye. Where
was all the P.D.I (public display of idiocy)? It was then that I realized that although the streets were
congested with walking tube tops and faux hawks, they weren’t hanging out on the pavement, but in the bars
themselves – duh!

I spy an Asian guy.

Perhaps Santana Row isn’t that bad – at least on the pavement. I’m still not gonna eat their shit-tier food and dine
at their over-priced, over-hyped restaurants, but perhaps I can come back more often to photograph the
try-hards and people looking to be seen.

OH SHIT, IT’S THE COPS!”

TORETTO!!!”

Places are much different from the outside looking in, and even more so if you aren’t even close enough to see
through the glass yourself. If you speculate and make assumptions before coming to a place, you could possibly
miss an opportunity. For you, maybe that opportunity is a chance to grind your sweaty balls all over some jail
bait’s freshly waxed leg, but for me, it’s an opportunity for a nicely pressed photo. For every tramp stamped
tramp at this joint, there is a group of Asian tourists, a family looking for grub, and a flock of socially oblivious
businessman.

And me? Where do I fit in with all of the creepy crawlers and tube topped monsters? I’m a kid with a flashlight,
trying to see if there really are monsters under the bed.

1 Comment

Filed under At The Mall, Blind Fire/Shooting From The Hip, My Life, Out And About, Paparazzi Style, People, Revelation, Scenes From, Street Photography

Larry – The Security Guard At My Apartment Complex – San Jose

You would never suspect it, but behind that blue and black uniform, there stands a man with a wife, a daughter, and a
background in chemistry. But that’s the thing, you’d never suspect it because most of us judge others by their job.

Every so often while I was growing up, my mom would point at random strangers and say “Ranier, look! You see that
janitor? You see that homeless man? He didn’t love his mom and he didn’t go to school. Now he’s homeless. You better
go to school or you’ll end up like him!”

But now, as a logical and much, much more compassionate human being, I’ve noticed the often conflicting lifestyles
people live in comparison to their jobs. The friendly sales lady at the local Kay Jewelers might be a dominatrix on
weekends, and the MMA instructor with the Harley Davidson tattoo might be an avid volunteer at the local animal
shelter. Nowadays, you really can’t judge a person by their profession.

Larry is the security guard in our apartment complex. Whenever Livi and I find ourselves in the parking lot, Larry is there
doing is rounds, checking up on the place to make sure we’re safe. Out of everyone, he’s easily the most friendly and
informative.

Upon asking him about the new regulations for parking, Larry and I wound up chatting for a good ten minutes about work,
his personal life, and his family. Unfortunately for all of us, tonight is Larry’s last shift at the complex. With the apartment
management swapping out its security men with hordes of cameras, Larry has no need to work at this place. Luckily for
him, he’s managed to find a new location up in Standford. He’ll be in a much safer, nicer area – which makes me quite
glad seeing as how he’s such a kind person.

I’m not sure what gravitated me towards him and his story. I guess there are those people in life that you meet, talk to for
a few moments, and you can just tell that they are good people. Solid people with good morals, a big heart, and an open
mind. Whether I will see Larry back in our apartments is an act of security roulette (security guards are contracted to
certain places for a specific duration of time, then they move on to a new location.) But one thing is for sure: no amount
of cameras and high tech gadgetry could ever replace the substance of a nice conversation, and an honest smile.

Thanks for keeping us safe, Larry.

1 Comment

Filed under Men, Out And About, People, Street Photography, The man/woman behind the job